Something to fix or something to face?


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People often come to therapy with the view that they want to fix something that they feel is wrong. Like they want to fix a bad memory of something. They’d like the remove an unwanted, uncomfortable feeling. Therapy doesn’t work like that. It is hard work.

Take depression. Depression often presents as a heavy feeling characterised by an overwhelming sense that there is nothing that can be done about the situation. It may very well be true. Sometimes nothing can be done to change a particular situation. Life can really dish up some rubbish when it wants to but we have to get on with living. There really is no other healthy choice.

Death can sometimes feel like an option but is simply a long-term solution to what may be a short term problem. So, the only way out of a depression is out and you have to work at it. The work is often painful with very intense emotions. Avoiding these thoughts and feelings can create other problems. Avoidance can take many forms. A common way is to indulge in a substance. This is OK for a little while but people can get stuck for years trying to erase bad memories. 

Avoiding negative thoughts and uncomfortable feelings has the opposite effect. The memories can grow in potency while whole lives are geared around trying to forget something terrible. The result is often a sense of inertia and hopelessness while erasing memories can become the focus of life. It is ironic how avoidance of painful emotions reinforces a sense of inability to cope and sets up a negative feedback loop that grows in intensity.

The alternative is to face the memories and the associated pain while making the conscious decision to get on with life. Confronting the memories is like standing up to a ten foot tall monster that scares the hell out of you but can not actually touch you. The memories can not hurt you anymore. They are past. Avoidance actually keeps the memories fresh. Professional counsellors can help you pass through this difficult terrain.

Moving from a life of avoidance and back into a life full of action changes one’s head space from being a victim of things that have happened and moves them to take up the stance of a survivor.

Take Care

Therapy Monkey